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We formulate and systematically test three hypotheses about the effect of ethnicity on • leadership succession in Africa. We test whether leaders from ethnic groups with large population shares lose power less frequently, and are less likely to have nonconstitutional successors than leaders from ethnic groups with small population shares. We also test whether leaders' successors are disproportionately likely to belong to the same ethnic group. We decisively confirm the third hypothesis, while rejecting the other two. Among leaders from large ethnic groups, our evidence indicates larger population shares are associated with greater risks of losing power and with an increased probability successors are nonconstitutional. This paper is more about ethnicity than economic development but we do also find that economic growth reduces the leader's risk of losing power, whether we use a measure of leader's ethnic share which takes into account ethnic dispersion or not.


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